There’s a figure against the moon

It’s been a month since my last post, and this is really a reflection of how busy things have been.


I took a trip to Martin Lynch & Sons, a ham radio equipment supplier in Chertsey. I decided to get my 7 year old FT-950  wide banded to accommodate the new radio allocation of 5MHz. I went there with good intentions of paying £50 to have the radio modded, but ended up coming out with a brand new FTDX-3000, and quite a bit poorer.

I always go for Yaesu radios, not because I think they are superior to other radios, more for the fact that they are now familiar to me and its easy to go from one model to another without having to try and get used to a different layout. The radio is a level above my old FT-950 and has a built in band scope. One of the downsides of the 950 was the fact that you had to rummage through menus to change the output power, the 3000 has this on the front panel which does make life easier.

ChOT9hjWMAAo28QPride of place below my IC-910





So far this month I have had more than 60 contacts on the key, which is something of a record for me. I have not worked any DX of note with a couple of Asiatic Russian stations, but in the main I worked mostly EU stations.

I went to Dunstable Downs rally this weekend and for the first time in a few years I came away without a load of crap. I think because I’ve spent the last few weeks clearing the shack out and throwing away most of the crap I have bought at radio rallies, I don’t want to fill the shack back up again.


While out walking with the dog recently I found a route that will take me from Harlow to Epping using only public footpaths and bridleways, crossing only a small number of minor roads.

Whilst walking a couple of weeks ago I found an old flint tool, I can only make assumptions as to what is was used for, but it fits the hand very well and by holding it it could either be used as a scraper or some form of digging tool. The flint has been worked and has a pointed end as well as a curved sharp edge on one side. For all I know it could just be a naturally shaped stone but I doubt it.


After a while searching I have found a supplier of Kombucha in the UK. I have now had a couple of boxes from them and I have to say it is very good.


The boat has once again taken a back seat as other events in our lives have taken the driving seat.


This weekend Lesley’s mum had a piece of her lung removed in a bid to remove the cancer. It looks like she will be starting chemo in the next week or so. I feel really sorry for Ann, she is 73 years old and never had a cigarette in her life. Her and her husband ran pubs for most of their working lives while it was still legal to smoke inside. I can only imagine this is due to secondary smoke inhalation.

Lesley is up in Doncaster taking care of her, it is handy sometimes having a nurse in the family.

Toni has been all over the place over the past couple of weeks which included a trip to Portugal with her boyfriend, and business trips to Los Angeles, she wasn’t overly impressed and Madeira, she liked this place. At the end of June she is off to Budapest for a week with her boyfriend. She is loving life at the moment and I’m really pleased for her.

That’ll do till next time

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My family and other animals

I grew up in a block of flats in east London. I lived there with my parents and my younger brother. There were seven years between my younger brother and I, which I think is a bit too much of a gap to ever be really close. It felt like we were always in very different stages in our life. I have an older brother and sister, from my dads marriage before he met my mother. I never knew about or met my older brother till I was 11, and never met my sister till I was 18.

Anyway enough background and on to the meat. We both had boats on the Norfolk broads, in fact him buying a boat to live on spurred us on to buy one for weekends. This ended up with me actually spending  more time with him, and we enjoyed that. Up to this point I had been spoilt as I always had Alan (not his name) to myself, he had had some relationships but seemed happier on his own. We had some great times on the boat and the kids loved having the time with him, their other uncle is not really involved with anyone outside of his wifes family.

Around 2005ish Alan met up with a girl from Ipswich, she was fantastic, just what he needed. She was independent, bright and outgoing. She instantly got him into shape and it was strange (good but strange) to see the transformation in him, it wasn’t long before he moved out of the boat and in with her in Ipswich. This was a strange time for me, for after having Alan to myself for so long I had to share him, with another family. She had a brother and parents and although I never got to meet them they seemed really nice from what Alan and my mother told me about them.

Around this time things had started to change for me. I found out that my endowments that I took out with the mortgage were going to fail quite considerably, at the same time some other investments I had running also failed and I lost a lot of money, on top of that I lost over £30k out of my pension due to the stock market crash. In  no time at all I found myself working two jobs. Monday to Friday I was the Engineering Manager for Transport for London. On Friday evening I would go to the Comet or Tesco Distribution centre and pick up an artic and work all night, I did this for 3 years.

The last time I saw Alan to talk to, was at his home in Ipswich, at this time he was preparing to get married in Norfolk on a tourist boat. We were made up for him, for the first time since I had known him he really seemed happy.

This is when it all went wrong, I started getting warning letters from my bank as well as phone calls from some of my creditors, the problem with being in this situation, as well as working seven days a week, is that it is all consuming. You are on a treadmill and there is nothing you can do about it. Despite that, Alan’s wedding seem to creep up on me, the first falling out was over his stag night. A couple of days before his stag do I had my car broken into, when you have no spare money a simple thing like a broken window knocks you flat, I texted Alan and got a very terse response from him, I asked him the following day how the stag do went and I don’t remember getting  reply.

During the run up to the wedding I had to make some hard decisions, whether they were right or wrong? I stand by my decision, but should have handled it a different way. It got to about three days before Alan’s wedding, I had done my sums and worked out that we just couldn’t afford to go. As previously said we were very short of cash, I had around £3-4 per week spare cash. I had not heard from Alan since my failure to go to his Stag do, and with that in mind and the lack of money we gave Patrick our last £50 so that he could go, which he did, and we stayed home. Alan hasn’t spoken to me since except to wish that I had broken my neck instead of my leg.

I handled the situation badly and should have let him know what my situation was rather than just not turning up to his wedding, but, hindsight is always 20-20.

About a year after Alan was married, my mother moved to Suffolk to be nearer Alan, and after a disagreement I lost touch with her. I went to see her a few years ago as Alan wanted our dad’s old PSV badge. It was strange seeing her in a different home but she was still as manipulative as ever. While there my little brother called her, when she answered she told him she had company he obviously asked who. At this point she could have handled it quite simply by saying anyone, but no, she told Alan her brother was there, it would have had less impact if she had just said Paul, but no “Brother” was her weapon of choice, which wound him up no end and my mother was able to smile again. I knew it would him up because he hung up then phoned her back to tell her not to tell me anything about him, I could hear him on the other side of the room. I left, my mother made it quite clear that she wanted nothing more to do with me or my family, the following week I dropped my Fathers PSV badge through the letterbox. I wouldn’t be surprised if she never passed it on just to keep up the animosity.

Apart from a couple of notifications from LinkedIn and Twitter (where he accidentally followed me, twice) I have had no contact with either of them since.

Unfortunately now too much time has passed to ever repair this even if he was willing. There are too many other parties involved.

My wife was devastated, she always looked on Alan as the brother she never had and for some time was really upset about this. However due to her upbringing she has moved on and wants no more to do with him.

Both of my kids really looked up to him, my daughter got over it first and he doesn’t even register with her. My son took it the worst, and for the life of me I really don’t understand the way he was treated by Alan.

Things are really good now, I still think about them from time to time, but in all honesty I no longer miss the drama that my mother and Alan always seemed to be caught up in.

Right that’s enough, it has been good to write this. As has been said if I had my time over again I would have had to make the decision not to go, but I would have communicated this to my brother at the time.

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Cockles and Mussels

Had a nice short week at work this week due to us being in Doncaster last weekend and returning on Monday, so it went pretty quick all in all.


Alfies feet are healing up quite nicely now and he is getting about really well. He still limps a bit when he overdoes it but I don’t think there will be any lasting damage.


Friday I left work and went straight to Ramsgate to meet up with a couple of old friends, I had booked myself into the Travelodge which was bang smack in front of the harbour. The hotel was like all the other travelodges, very clean but no atmosphere, I don’t mind this, having spent more years than I care to remember stopping in hotels, I quite like knowing the standard of the hotel I’m going to.

I met up with Guiseppe (Paul), and we took a stroll along the harbour to the Queens Head, this is a fantastic little pub, just like they used to be before Wetherspoons and Yates’s decided to sterilise the industry. We met up with our old friend John, me and Paul hadn’t seen John since he left London in 1978. We stopped in the Queens Head for a few pints and then made our way to a new Tapas bar called Bench, it had only opened on Wednesday. We sat and talked away the years until after 1:30 and then all staggered back off to our various bunks. The next morning I met Guiseppe at the harbour with one of his friends and we went off for breakfast in a cafe under an arch. The breakfast was great and we had a long chat with Guiseppe’s mate Lee. It turns out Lee used to live in Canning Town so it didn’t take long before we were talking about people we both knew. After Breakfast me and Guiseppe set off for Sandwich and Margate and we were on our feet all day. I went back home at about 17:00 but Guiseppe stayed down to have a drink with Lee. All in all it was a great weekend with good company

Guiseppe and me

Me and Guiseppe enjoying a glass of Viru at Bench, Ramsgate




I bit the bullet and ventured out on the bike today. I have been putting it off for some time, I have lost some weight recently and want to keep this momentum going, I have always cycled and at times have been a little obsessive about it, however I haven’t been on the bike in anger for about seven years. I have about 5 bikes (who’s counting), I am currently to heavy for most of them but I have a hybrid with 26in wheels which can cope with me. I also bought an new heart rate monitor, I like using a HRM it gives me something to work against, I think they are a great training aid. My new HRM also has a GPS device and when you download your training info the route taken, including altitude, is then plotted onto a map, fantastic. I though long and hard and decided not to overdo it today so opted for a 5 mile hilly route and it almost killed me. 5 miles in 45 minutes which would have been unheard of for me 10 years ago. But, I have to remind myself that I haven’t been active for sometime and I need to really build my fitness up. Watch this space..


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The Ties That Bind

I write this as we run out the clock on another year. And what a year it has been. I found out a few things about myself this year, and of course I also have a few new issues to work on, but that said nothing that needs me to seek help, all things I can deal with myself. I don’t buy into the whole depression thing I’m afraid, this doesn’t mean that I think that anyone claiming to suffer from depression is swinging the lead, far from it, I just think it’s over prescribed these days. I have two close family members who have suffered from depression, one lost a child during childbirth the other spent too much money on frivolous things and not the rent and bills and then claimed depression, you can guess which one I think had genuine depression. I have read some articles and spoke to my doctor and according to them I am probably depressed. What a load of codswallop!

Anyway, new challenges for next year, lets see how that works out.



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All Change

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks with some fairly large changes, I have not had time to update this nonsense, but I only have one reader and about two hundred watchers trying sell Viagra, so I don’t think I have anything to worry about.


I have now stood down from my Vice-Chairman post at Harlow Radio Club, I have also left the club. I have not left under a cloud, it is more to do with the way I am with people in general. It’s a personal thing and not something I fully understand myself yet.

I will continue with radio as I am still enjoying it, I just don’t see the need to belong to a club to participate.


On my last post I stated how much I liked my Daughters boyfriend, what a difference a couple of weeks make. They have now gone their separate ways and I have to say I am relieved. Least said soonest mended.

The good news however is that Toni passed her driving test a couple of weeks ago, she passed with only one minor mark, an almost perfect performance.  So she is now whizzing around in her little Corsa. I have taken her out on the motorway to get her used to fast moving traffic. She is a good driver and just needs to build her confidence up a bit.


This weekend me and Pat went up the boat, I haven’t been up since July so it was feeling a bit neglected. We went up on the Friday morning. Unfortunately the domestic batteries were completely flat. The engine battery was fine and after a little coaxing Martha’s 45 year old BMC diesel engine roared into life. We took the boat around to Sutton for a pump out and some diesel, all done we took a run up to Neatishead, we had to disturb a couple of anglers to get moored up but this doesn’t bother me, as I get older I seem to have gone off fishing and fishermen.

We had intended to stay the night aand try the refurbished pub, but I had concerns over the batteries so we sailed back to our moorings in Stalham. Me and Pat bought some booze and food in the local Tesco and had a good night watching the telly. We returned home the following day (Saturday). We are going back up in two weeks time.

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It’s been a funny couple of weeks, I have found myself in a really reflective mood, and I’m not sure why that is. I have been reading Danny Bakers new book and there are a lot of similarities in our childhoods and I think that may have something to do with it. Last weekend I took a drive around my old stamping ground, Plaistow. The area has completely changed, not so much the architecture, although there have been some big changes here and there, but the inhabitants. London has always been a melting pot with people coming from all over the place to earn a crust, however what is really evident here is the speed at which this European influx have settled in. Most of the shops in my old neighbourhood cater for the Eastern Europeans with shop signage in cyrillic or urdu or the seemingly odd 10 letter words with only one vowel and at least two Z’s. I can’t say I am happy about this, but I can do little to change anything, I am concerned for the future.


Radio activity has been very quiet of late due to a mixture of things, work has been hectic, the bands have been quiet and I have had a real downturn in enthusiasm for the club. I don’t need the club to play radio and I don’t expect this lack of activity to continue when I leave the club this year. Watch this space.


Work has been really hectic and it’s all happening at the moment. We have taken up residence in our new premises in Orpington. I now have an administrator and she is a godsend, she has taken shedloads of work off me, allowing me to get on with the other stuff.


I had a dream the other night about my dad, my old fella died about eleven years ago now and the last months of his life were miserable. In the dream he looked really well and was wearing a blue cardigan (the cardigan tied into a story he told me about his first date). It was brief but I woke up feeling really good, although I don’t believe dreams, mean anything prophetic, its still nice to see a face you haven’t seen in years. I think I’m really lucky, for though me and my father had some belters of rows over the years, far more so than my siblings. I can say I had the best relationship with him compared to my brothers and sister. There are many reasons for this that I won’t go into here. There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t think of Pat, especially when I bump into someone we both knew or I see an old coach that he or we either drove or repaired, and would dearly love to have a chat with him about it.


My oldest friend Guiseppe came round yesterday and spent the day with me, we had a long chat about old times, old girlfriends and the state of the nationIt’s always great to see Guiseppe and he is coming over again next week when I get the parts to fix his car.

Daughters Boyfriend

We have been seeing a bit of Toni’s boyfriend Dan, I have to say he is a really nice chap and they seem really comfortable around each other. I’m hoping it continues.


That’s all for now





Onwards and Upwards

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. Just when I thought I could smell autumn, we have had a week of mid 20c temperatures, although hopefully we should see the temperatures dropping soon. I like my seasons to be as they should.


Interesting things happening at work currently, we are opening another workshop in SE London/Kent. I am in the middle of taking on new engineers admin and a storeman. Very busy, very good.


My CW continues to improve and my microphone has cobwebs all over it. I have made 180 contacts on the key so far this year, I’m hoping for 250 by the end of the year. I have decided to stand down from the committee of my local radio club, I have also decided to cut back my activity there also.

I visited the National Hamfest this week, which is tiny compared to Freidrichafen and Deyton, but its our rally and it should be supported. I always manage to do see what I need to see in about and hour and half. I had a look at the new FT-3000 and I had to walk away when the salesman came over for fear that I’d end up buying one. I bought a kit from Kanga for a qrp 60m transciever, that’ll give me something to do over the winter. I also bought a book of qrp project plans, something else to keep me going over the winter.

That’ll do for now


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